6 min: Chance for Alonso! Chelsea break throughMount, who finds James on the right. He has time to look up and flight a lovely ball to the far post, where the unmarked Alonso shins a volley just wide of the far post. He’s usually such a clean striker of the ball but he made a mess of that.
A win today would move Chelseato within a point of second, albeit having played a game more. I wonder how Frank Lampard feels about Chelsea’s resurgence; if I was him I’d be hacked off at being sacked just before such a relatively easy run of fixtures.
Southampton make two changes from the team that lost to Wolves last weekend: Mohammed Salisu and Moussa Djenepo replace the injured pair of Kyle Walker-Peters and Stuart Armstrong. Salisu is starting a Premier League game for the first time, and it looks like Ralph Hasenhuttl has switched to a back three.
There are four changes for Chelsea. Edouard Mendy, Kurt Zouma, Reece James and N’Golo Kante return to the side, with Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho dropping to the bench.
The paradox of the new manager bounce is that it helps to have a soft landing. Thomas Tuchel could barely have wished for a better set of fixtures in his first month at Chelsea, a run that continues with today’s trip to out-of-form Southampton.
Chelsea have jumped five places in five games under Tuchel, from ninth to fourth, and again look credible contenders for a Champions League place. Things will get very real after today – their next three games are against Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool – but Tuchelsea have built up plenty of confidence in the last few weeks.
The opposite is true of Southampton. They have lost their last six league games, dropping to 13th as a result, though they have been desperately unfortunate with injuries and VAR. Most of their players are back now, so it shouldn’t be long before they return to their overachieving best. Maybe today’s the day.